While Phoenix is acknowledged as one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the U.S., still very few riders know about the splendid rides in the vicinity of Arizona’s capital. One of the great features that Phoenix has to offer motorcyclists is the comfort and variety of a vibrant urban area in combination with easy access to magnificent rides with unexpected diversity.
Through 6,000 ft. of elevation change, Central Arizona’s roads wind amidst lonely cacti and pine forests, introducing the rider to landscapes from sweeping southwestern vistas to steep canyon walls. The first two of the five best day-rides mentioned here are suitable for cruiser, touring or sport bikes; the last three require a motorcycle which can be safely ridden on dirt-roads as well. The potpourri of spirited rides on the tarmac and the captivating beauty and solitude of unpaved back roads, overlaid with bit of old western touch is what we call the “Arizona Motorcycle Experience.” Take part in it!
Fountain Hills, Bartlett Lake
This 145-mile ride provides a nice blend of culture, suburban and natural beauty, topped with a hint of old western flavor. A short warm-up ride takes you to Taliesin West, one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpieces where you can choose from one to three hour tours, according to your pace and interest. Passing the scenic location of the famous Mayo Clinic you start to climb to Fountain Hills, one of the newest modern desert colonies in Arizona. As you go uphill, stay in the right lane and watch for the scenic turnout, which gives you an aerial view of the East Valley. The Fountain Hills community proudly presents one of the tallest fountains in the world.
Heading further north, take a loop around McDowell Mountain Park and perhaps stop for a short hike. You can learn more about the park by spending a couple of minutes at the visitor center. The next stop is a popular summer weekend escape for Phoenicians--Bartlett Lake. At the marina, you’ll have a better understanding about the debate over whether or not Arizona has more boats per capita than any other state! As you climb up the road from the marina, take the right turn and visit the beaches that give different views of the lake. On summer weekends be prepared that you won’t be the only visitor.
Backtrack on Bartlett Dam and Cave Creek roads and enjoy the shops and restaurants embedded in the laid back ambiance of the Carefree-Cave Creek area. Before you return to the city don’t miss Greasewood Flat, the original stagecoach stop between Fort McDowell and Phoenix. The establishment nowadays operates as a bar. They serve alcohol-free beer for the rider. The access road leading to Greasewood Flat is unpaved with hard packed dirt for a few hundred yards, so be cautious, especially if you are on a heavier bike!
By the end of this ride it will probably be dark as you head back to Scottsdale or Phoenix, so watch for the broad vista of sparkling city lights on your left as you turn onto Happy Valley Road.
Motorcycle Ride From Phoenix #1: Fountain Hills, Bartlett Lake
Motorcycle Ride From Phoenix #2: Wickenburg, Prescott
Motorcycle Ride From Phoenix #3: Payson, Mogollon Rim
Motorcycle Ride From Phoenix #4: Tortilla Flat, Apache Trail
Motorcycle Ride From Phoenix #5: Lake Pleasant, Castle Hot Springs